Cost of Beauty

Genesis 26:7-11

7When the men of that place asked him about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” because he was afraid to say, “She is my wife.” He thought, “The men of this place might kill me on account of Rebekah, because she is beautiful.”

8When Isaac had been there a long time, Abimelek king of the Philistines looked down from a window and saw Isaac caressing his wife Rebekah. 9 So Abimelek summoned Isaac and said, “She is really your wife! Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’?” Isaac answered him, “Because I thought I might lose my life on account of her.”

10 Then Abimelek said, “What is this you have done to us? One of the men might well have slept with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.”

11 So Abimelek gave orders to all the people: “Anyone who harms this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.”

Introduction

A TV series feature young people drinking liquor. A young lad got drunk. Her parents asked her why she got drunk. She was upset that her childhood friend got more attention from the handsome man she secretly loved.

She asked her parents, “Is my friend more beautiful than me?” Her parents hesitated to answer her question but her brother told her bluntly, “Your friend is more beautiful than you!” And he added, “If you want to attract attention from men, do not to hang out with ladies who are more beautiful than you.”

Instinctively, most men are easily attracted by beauty. The Lord Jesus warned in Matthew 5:28, 28But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

God created beauty to be appreciated but Christ warned that men can possibly be attracted and commit sin. He also explained that adultery can be committed in the heart when one looks at a woman with lust. The motive when looking at a woman exposes the nature of the heart and its tendency to sin.

Have you ever heard a blind man assaulted a woman sexually?

Sexual assault reports and the #MeToo movement validated a high cost of beauty. Beauty can be both blessing and curse both to singles and married.

Isaac had beautiful wife, and he proved that beauty is costly. How?

It was not explicitly explained but Isaac may have been considering of going to Egypt when the Lord cautioned him to stay in Gerar and not go to Egypt. Isaac was distressed when men of Gerar inquired about his beautiful wife.

1. Distress

7When the men of that place asked him about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” because he was afraid to say, “She is my wife.” He thought, “The men of this place might kill me on account of Rebekah, because she is beautiful.”

Isaac had inherited great wealth including many servants. And, Rebekah was not forced to work under the hot summer sun. So her beauty was amplified by her fair skin. And, the men of Gerar were curious about her. Isaac was distressed that the men of Gerar were attracted to Rebekah. Who doesn’t?

Isaac may have heard that men in Gerar sexually assault beautiful women. He was scared for his life and planned to go to Egypt. That could be one reason why the Lord told him not to go to Egypt and just stay in Gerar for a little while.

God may have given Isaac an idea that problems may follow him in Egypt. His beautiful wife can attract the Egyptians, too. So, Isaac did not insist on relocating there. By faith, Isaac trusted that God would sustain his needs.

The Lord promised His presence and blessings if Isaac stayed in Gerar. Earlier, God mentioned about Abraham’s obedience. Isaac was surely reminded of God’s blessings to his father so that he also obeyed the Lord’s instruction.

It was not clear how the men of Gerar inquired about Rebekah. Isaac may have interpreted that they asked not just for curiosity sake but with intention to marry her or to take her as wife. And, there could have been multiple inquiries. Others may have brought him gifts after Isaac told them that she was his sister.

Isaac was scared for his life. What can we learn from Isaac’s experience? When threatened, we also have a tendency to lie just to save ourselves.

Peter

Apostle Peter was the most vocal disciple. He did not hesitate to say whatever he thought was right. It says in John 13:37-38, 37Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!

Whatever Jesus declares comes true. Indeed, it happened just as Jesus said it. Before the rooster crows, Peter denied 3 times that he knew Jesus, why? He was scared for his life. Denying Jesus is natural tendency of a sinful person.

In Titus 1:15-16, 15To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. 16They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.

This topic about denial is very intriguing even to seminary students. Say for instance: Your father witnessed illegal activities. He decided to testify in court. People involved in that illegal activity knock at your door at night. They ask about your father, will you tell them his location? Will you lie and say you don’t know?

Some said, “I’ll cross the bridge when I get there!” Truly, if you are decided to testify about your faith in the Lord, don’t worry about what you will say. Let the Spirit of Christ gives you the right word when you face unfamiliar situations.

The Lord Jesus said in Matthew 10:19-20, 19Do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

Will God be angry if you lie for the safety of others? If your testimony as believer is at stake, pray that the Holy Spirit will give you the right words to say.

Abraham was considered the father of faithful believers, yet, he lied for his safety. Abraham was scared of his life. So, he told Sarah to keep secret their husband-and-wife relationship. When the Lord told Abraham that his 90 years old wife Sarah will give birth in her old age, Sarah heard it and she laughed.

It says in Genesis 18:13-15, 13 Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” 15 Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.” But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”

The Lord instructed Abraham to name his son “Isaac” which means “he laughs.” Perhaps, Isaac heard that his parents denied their marital relationship when they went to Egypt or when they came to live in Gerar. Or, maybe he asked why he was named Isaac, and heard that his mother denied that she also laughed because she was scared. Yet, the Lord did not punish his parents.

Isaac used the same strategy of his father because he was also scared for his life. The beauty of his wife made him afraid. Isaac tried deception for safety.

2. Deception

8When Isaac had been there a long time, Abimelek king of the Philistines looked down from a window and saw Isaac caressing his wife Rebekah. 9So Abimelek summoned Isaac and said, “She is really your wife! Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’?” Isaac answered him, “Because I thought I might lose my life on account of her.” 10Then Abimelek said, “What is this you have done to us? One of the men might well have slept with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.”

Living there for a long time may suggest that Isaac’s experienced peace in Gerar. When King Abimelek witnessed the intimate interaction between Isaac and Rebekah, he suspected that Isaac lied. So, he confronted Isaac.

Isaac admitted that he made up such deception because he was afraid for his life. Abimelek was bothered by Isaac’s deception. He was worried that God punishes them if his men slept with Rebekah. Abimelek may have remembered God punished his household when he took Isaac’s mother Sarah to be his wife.

In a dream, God warned King Abimelek after he took Sarah from Abraham.

It was recorded in Genesis 20:3, 3God came to Abimelek in a dream one night and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.”

Abimelek was so scared of the Lord so that he returned Sarah to Abraham. He also brought cattle, sheep, and male and female slaves, and 12 kilograms of silver to Abraham to cover the offense made against Sarah, and as proof to everyone that Sarah did nothing wrong against anyone.

Abraham and Sarah kept secret their marital relationship, in which King Abimelek felt deceived, yet, it was Abimelek who paid for their deception. Abraham was blessed with material things even more. Is it helpful for us to keep personal information secret for the sake of our safety or others’ safety?

Resume’

A seasoned pastor sent a very impressive resume to a search committee. Aside from many years of pastoral experience, he could not help but add in the list of special talent his expertise in martial arts. The search committee sensed that the pastor was just trying to impress them, any they were turned off.

Impressing others is not uncommon among job applicants. Assuming that it would be appealing to employers, job applicants would use big words. Others would dress themselves as beautiful as they could be to impress the boss. Not just applicants. Most women spend so much time choosing what to wear. Why?

Do women put on extra beautification for fear of rejection? Does fear of rejection reveal lesser dependence upon the Lord? There will always be people who reject us. Nonetheless, rejection should not dictate our attitude toward God. It feels good to be accepted but to attract attention is greed for attention.

It says in 1 Peter 3:3-6, 3Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, 6like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

Truly, men are easily attracted by outward appearance. The men of Gerar were attracted to the beautiful wife of Isaac, and it caused Isaac to be distressed. Isaac deceived the men of Gerar when he told them that Rebekah was his sister. Isaac was scared to death. He thought that they might kill him on account of her.

3. Death

11 So Abimelek gave orders to all the people: “Anyone who harms this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.”

Perhaps, Abimelek believed that God favored Isaac because he observed that God favored Isaac’s father. When he found out that Isaac and Rebekah were actually married, Abimelek may have been reminded when the Lord told him in a dream that he was as good as dead when he took Sarah from Abraham. So, he issued a decree that anyone who may harm Isaac and Rebekah will be executed.

The beauty of Rebekah that caused distress, dispute, and the fear of death—what’s its implication to our spiritual life? Rebekah as the wife of Isaac represents the church as the Bride of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.

It teaches in Ephesians 5:23, 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.

The problem of Isaac the husband and the Rebekah the wife illustrates the problem of the church as the body of Christ. The unpleasant treatment of men in Gerar toward Rebekah that brought distress to Isaac represents the persecution of nonbeliever toward the church which is not pleasing to the Lord.

The Lord declared in John 15:20, 20If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.

Why did Christ warn that disciples will be persecuted? Did He declare to make us feel better? It’s like: “Misery loves company!” Does it favor us? Those who cause problems, what concern they should be aware of if they persecute?

Jesus has also warned in Matthew 25:40, 40Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

Although the original manuscript pertains to good deeds, can we also interpret that it also include unpleasant deeds towards the brothers and sisters of Christ? Who are the brothers and sisters that Christ mentioned above?

Apostle Paul teaches in Romans 8:29, 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

And, it is written in Hebrews 2:11, 11Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.

Believers in Jesus are the brothers and sisters of Christ. Persecution toward the brothers and sisters of Christ (believers) has become prevalent in this generation. When you practice your faith in your place of work, you may face unpleasant consequences or persecution. How do we react to persecution?

Christ teaches in Matthew 5:11, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

Blessedness or life with gladness is promised to all who are persecuted for putting into practice the teachings of Christ. Do you believe it? It is by faith that we trust that such blessing that Christ has declared is true. It’s pleasant to us.

Coarse Joke

Coarse joking or make fun of others is another form of persecution when it becomes very personal. It’s persecution. It’s bullying to make fun of others’ skin color, pimple, height, weight, accent, smell, or any unwanted physical features.

There was a pastor who loves to be the center of attraction. He loved to tell jokes and made fun of other pastors. Among others, it was his style to attract attention from non-believers. But, it was also his downfall. He did not anticipate it.

Church leaders lost respect of him. To add ‘salt to injury,’ the church elected a very young pastor with no experience to replace him from his position.

Coarse joking is in the same paragraph with immoral, impure and greedy person.

It says in Ephesians 5:3-7, 3But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7Therefore do not be partners with them.

Making fun of others is another form of greed, greedy for attention.

If they are not greedy for attention, if they have contentment of their status, why do they need to put another person down? Was it because of impure thoughts?

God’s word instructs us not to be partners with them and God’s wrath comes to those who are disobedient. This is not easy to disregard.

Is it easy to ignore those who love coarse joking or mocking others?

Not partners with those who love foolish talk and coarse joking, it’s a challenge!

What about neighbors, friends, relatives or someone who has shown great care for you? As humans, we also want to hang out with them because we know them personally. The command is not “to ignore them.”

It’s “Do not be partners with them!” When it says, “Do not be partners with them,” it means that we should not participate in coarse joking or mocking others. Instead, pray for them. Don’t rebuke them or they will hate you.

It says in Proverbs 9:8, 8Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you.

And in Proverbs 15:12, 12Mockers resent correction, so they avoid the wise.

If it is hard for you to rebuke a mocker or bully person, ask God for wisdom and right word on how to relate with that person. Pray for that person regularly.

Maybe, God has presented you a ministry to pray for them regularly.

Your concern of people who love foolish talk or coarse joking should prompt you to pray for them more diligently, that they will be filled with the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit prevails in their life, your problem won’t be their greed for more attention but that you cannot stop them talk more about Christ’s love.

<‘)))>< ltsii/2018 ><(((‘>

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